T Nation

Can't Squat, Now What?


After repeatedly injuring by lower back I am being forced to give up on squatting (my favorate exercise) One side of my L4 (lower back) disc is highly prone to bulging and just cant hold up to the pressure of squatting.

SOOOO I am wondering about other quad exercises that don't put too much pressure on the lower back. I can sumo DL and dumbell swing, so the hammies and glutes are all good.

I was thinking step ups or lunges but does anyone else have any ideas?
CHeers boys and girls.


If you can deadlift, what about barbell hack squats?


My friend, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of dumbell squats:



If you can do Bulgarian squats you can still train your legs extrememly hard without much stress on your lower back.


Not even DE Box squats with, of course, no pounding on the box, just a light touch an go for sets of 3? That is what I have been doing with my herniation...it works, then there are single leg exercises....


Have you tried front squats? I found once I got flexible enough for the movement, I was able to maintain my arch better at the bottom. I use Kettlebells for doing front squats, so the load isn't near maximal.


One Summer I didn't feel like squatting. So I just did hang clean 4 times a week. Came back to football and my max Squat had gone up 25 pounds. Of course my clean went up 55 pounds.


You could try pre-exhausting the quads with other exercies: lunges, leg-extensions, Front Squats, etc.

Then you could squat with less weight, and continue (maybe) to squat without pain.

This worked(works) for me.


Try belt squats. No back pressure at all and you can still use some appreciable weight. Check out Ironmind.


Shrig bar or trap bar deadlifts are probably a good choice. You can lift very heavy with them - most people can handle more weight than with a conventional deadlift. They work the quads more than conventional deadlifts.


Have you ever tried doing any low back rehab?


Thats what I was gonna say!!



Man I love this site. Thanks alot T-Men.

Right now by back is too bad to do anything other than piss me off. However once it gets better ill start giving some of these ideas a go. The main idea is to avoid compression of the disc so prehaps I will ask for a hip squat belt for christmas.
The dumbell squats seem intriguing as I too fall backwards when I squat narrow. Ill run them past my physio.
Cheers guys.

It is an old injury that I THOUGHT I had fixed. SO when it settles down Ill try but any tips would be cool.


Amen! Listen to the good doctor!

I'm sure you'll find that in the interim, single-leg exercises will be your best friends.


If you really are interested in learning about avoiding low back injuries and how to go about developing a good rehab program, get the book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by Stuart McGill. It is a great book. I recommend it to anyone who has had low back issues and wants to continue training.

Take care,



Call Louie Simmons @ Westside and ask him what he'll recomend...


Rehab, my man, rehab.

What have you done to strengthen your back? If you are repeatedly injuring it doing squats, take some time off squats and work on strengthening your actual back. Back extensions and Reverse Hypers worked well for me, but that is only after I got advice on what exercises would be beneficial for MY particular disc injury.

The back that the good doctor recommended is fantastic. Get it. Read it. Use it. Get some professional advice on what will effect your back. If you get an MRI report and email Dr Ryan, he maybe be nice enough to help you out.

Until you address the weaknesses you have, you are going to keep fucking up your back.


snatch grip deadlifs standing on blocks.